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Wholonics: The Structure and Dynamics of Wholeness

Wholonics: The Structure and Dynamics of Wholeness

Excerpt from THE ENLIVENED SELF eBook series.

“Everything is both part of a greater system and a whole thing unto itself.” Immanuel Kant

Just as our thoughts and actions are affected by our parents and children, they too are moved by us. We are Self-authorizing beings that have the ability to control and even change some things in our environment, but we also must adapt and respond to it as well. In an effort to better understand how we grow into wholeness, we must first understand how our world is becoming complete, and how we fit, or don’t fit, with these dynamics. Let’s call this study of the structure and dynamics of how Man becomes whole within the larger system of his worldWholonics suggest the reciprocal nature of our relationship with our circumstances – both mover and moved.

Like putting a jigsaw puzzle together having never seen the cover of the box, we sense that there is a clear and complete picture of our Self, but finding and fitting all the pieces together requires us to make sense of emerging patterns to discover the simplicity hidden within our complexity. To complete the puzzle we progress simultaneously from all directions. We spot the specific pieces that contain enough of a complete image to be discernible as a cardinal or a flower some other discrete element. Conversely, we also recognize the colors and shapes that merely intimate that they may be a small part of a larger motif like a blue sky or a snow-covered hill. Puzzles require us to be mindful all around and intentionally integrate our foresight and insight until an implicit design is made explicit. We do not create the puzzle but our creativity helps us find the image and bring it into view were all can appreciate its splendor.

How we come to know a thing is a curious amalgam of experience, perception, interpretation and its assimilation with what we believe we already understand. Though we assume our world view to be comprised of astute observation and cool rationality, it’s just as likely to be the product of magical thinking about how the car keys teleport themselves into the fridge, or mitigating factors like why one attracts more than their fair share of idiot drivers on the way to an important engagement. Some theories posit that there is an absolute reality that we can come to know in its basic forms, like time, space and energy. This view suggests that these forces intersect and reveal some representation of “reality” to us. Scientists sometimes refer to this act as “unlocking the secrets of nature.” That is, the world shows itself to us if we are paying attention.

We name the imperceptible forces that move through our world and describe them with structure and rules, but they are not tamed as such for we have limited powers to make them better or worse. We give these ambiguous and ubiquitous forces names like the Market, the People, and the Spirit of the Age. The enigmatic philosopher Hegel called this creative powergeist, a German term that roughly translates as “spirit-mind,”because it’s self-aware, it progresses through the acts of Man across history towards its own freedom. We characterize these forces as anthropomorphic because we experience them as a living and conscious presence in our lives. When this view is taken too far, the result is necromancy or primitive superstition where everything appears to be a sign, and faith and folly become indistinguishable. But when tempered with reason, we can discern the authentic patterns and energy that flow around and within us.

There are five First Principles of Wholonics:

  1. We Have No Data on the Future Where Growth Happens
  2. We Are Both Whole and Part of a Greater System
  3. We are a Multitude of One
  4. We Grow Through Creative Conflict
  5. We Aspire to Wholeness but Never Achieve It

The Ancient Greeks called this essence or underlying reality hypostasis, meaning the stable order below the surface of all that changes. This foundation is apparent to neither eye nor ear and can only be contemplated in the curio of the mind. While we may never know the essence of these implicit forces, we can discern some of their key functions and attributes and apply them to our own development. More so, we can seek out situations where growth is most favorable and apply practices that are most appropriate. Growth is a complicit progression from demand to expand – from sought to wrought. That is what we will endeavor here.

Excerpt from THE ENLIVENED SELF eBook series.


***NEW*** from the Jeff DeGraff Innovation Library, THE ENLIVENED SELF eBook series.The Enlivened Self entwines leadership principles, innovation methodologies, personal development techniques and creative memoir into an integrating process for re-creating yourself. The Enlivened Self is a guidebook rich with media and web resources, and opportunities to engage for anyone who wants to become the very best version of themselves. Part 1 is available now at

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